By Saint Erythros 


Aneiron really didn't give a damn about much; one could tell just by looking at 
him.  All the redhead cared about was having someone to tease, his lieutenant 
Dhearec to order around in high-handed tyranny that only an emotionless stoical 
Madros lord would have put up with, and something to kill -- not necessarily in 
that order. 
Jadeite could respect that; he was even getting to like Aneiron, despite 
occasional memories of Zoisite that the latter provoked. 
Xer'Dun, on the other hand... 
Jadeite hated Xer'Dun on sight, and not just because the al'Linas soldier was a 
slightly less divinely-scaled version of the Dai Shahre, sans cloak and staff. 
Jadeite had asked Dhearec about this, why so many Shondarin soldiers looked like 
clones of each other; Dhearec, predictably, had gone into a long, 
highly-convoluted explanation of the Saints and how Saint Zoya had devised a 
kind of serum that would "freeze" a Housefounder's genes into almost-perfect 
copies, and how each House in Shondarin society fulfulled a specific niche, like 
al'Ledo and Lalandra lords were commanders, House Maean was a sept of weavers 
and milliners and fashion designers, and Madros lords were philosophers and 
Not satisfied, Jadeite had gone to Dhearec's friend Gurean, who was a bastard, a 
Forsotar, and who therefore as a Houseless man had a somewhat different 
perspective on it. 
"Well," Gurean had said, "as far as I can see, having each person almost exactly 
like every other member of his House is just our way of keeping everyone 
straight.  If you know one Jander lord, like Aneiron, you know them all.  That's 
important, my lord, in a society like Shondar; it means that should a civil war 
break out, you know what the other side's going to do.  Even the Dai Shahre, 
who's make a military career out of being unpredictable, whose Gift seems to be 
luck so strong that he can do whatever he wants and have it turn out rosy, still 
essentially acts and thinks the same as Saint Ledo, or any other al'Ledo lord. 
"Get it?" 
"What about you?" Jadeite had asked, studying the young man.  As far as he had 
been able to tell, the only thing different about Gurean  was that he had no 
almost-clone fellow soldiers to keep him company.  But then, neither did 
Aneiron, Dhearec, or the Dai Shahre himself. 
"Oh, me," Gurean had said, unexpectedly laughing.  "They have to keep an eye on 
me, my lord.  You see, I have no precedent for being me; there aren't a whole 
lot of me-clones running around in Shondar, and the rest of the proper-born 
citizens have no idea what I'm going to do next.  They just don't know what I'm 
up to.  Not even Aneiron gets the funny looks that I do, sometimes. 
"I really don't mind it, my lord; aside from jerks like Feriom, being a soldier 
is about the only thing I can do without everyone getting on my back about being 
different.  About being unique." 
Gurean had paused, looked at Jadeite opaquely. "You'll find, my lord, that they 
watch you too. You're an alien, a non-Shondarin, having no House and no 
distinguishing characteristics of your own. You're unpredictable to the Dai 
Shahre and to Aneiron -- they will watch you, my lord. Just as they watch me." 
Thinking about this conversation helped keep Jadeite from killing Xer'Dun; he 
reminded himself that Xer'Dun couldn't help being an arrogant, pompous 
sonuvabitch.  Because he was an al'Linas. Because he was, for lack of a better 
word, programmed to be so. 
Jadeite still didn't like him. 
"Well, my lord Jadeite," said Xer'Dun, somehow managing to put a whole dripping 
coat of contempt on the honorific 'my lord.'  "When will Your Highness' youma 
give us the information about this ArchDemon of yours?" 
Jadeite barely managed to hold on to his temper as he replied.  "My youma are 
still occupied in rebuilding the major parts of the Dark Kingdom," he said 
curtly. "They must work to keep the roof from falling on the heads of your 
Silver Flames." 
Xer'Dun smiled coldly and mockingly, the expression flitting across his dark 
handsome features like an oil slick coats over water.  "Certainly, my lord, but 
must they be so slow about it?  The Dai Shahre needs information if Himself is 
going to defeat this ArchDemon." 
"Don't be a jackass, Xer'Dun," Aneiron said affably.  The redhead was in his 
customary midair seat, eating some of what the Shondarins mistakenly called 
food.  After two or three meals from the Shondarin mess halls, Jadeite had come 
to the conclusion that the Shondarins either had no taste buds at all, or had 
such radically different nutritional needs that they might as well eat dirt.  
The bar that Aneiron was currently chomping on was what the soldiery ate in the 
field: iron rations, which had no taste, no smell, no real texture, and was 
interesting mainly as a chewing exercise. 
Aneiron swallowed his bite, looked down at Xer'Dun with a merry smile.  "The 
Lord Jadeite is attending to his kingly duties in his own way, Xer'Dun, so watch 
yourself or he'll give you the same kind of thrashing that he handed to Feriom." 

Xer'Dun answered blithely enough, although he did dart an uneasy glance at 
Jadeite.  "Feriom is a Tarynn, and I would expect that a jumped-up knight like 
that could fall even to a Forsotar --" 
Aneiron reached down and whacked the al'Linas a clout across the ear that must 
have genuinely hurt.  "House Tarynn has been Noble for longer than yours has, 
Xer'Dun," said the redhead peaceably. " Don't give me any of that swallop about 
how Saint Linas was an al'Ledo lord and the greatest Bard of all time; I don't 
care.  As for me, I outclass both you and Feriom.  Lord Darian was the first one 
to kneel at Caesarea's feet; House Jander's the oldest House in the bloody 
Empire, even older than House Madros.  So watch it, or I'll wrap your neck 
around your ankles, and then I'll hand you off to Dhearec, who'll quote Saint 
Madros' Commentaries at you until you beg him to please, please shut up." 
Xer'Dun scowled at both of them, rose fluidly to his feet, and stalked out of 
Jadeite's newly-restored study. 
"Don't mind him, will you," said Aneiron around a mouthful of iron rations.  He 
swallowed, and went on somewhat more distinctly, "He's a creepy jerk, no 
kidding, and he's just madder than hell cuz the Dai Shahre spends more time 
talking to you and picking your brains than he does with his commanders." 
The redhead snickered.  "Not that I mind; since Himself has a new project, I get 
a lot more free time.  We ought to defeat ArchDemons every campaign." 
Jadeite, despite his initial dislike for the Jander, had to admit that Aneiron's 
boisterous good humor was the only thing that could make him laugh anymore.  
Perhaps that was why the Dai Shahre cherished Aneiron so much -- for the air of 
unquenchable optimism combined with the almost casual malice that could allow 
Aneiron to bubble with laughter one moment and slit a man's throat the next. 
This is what Zoisite was like, back on Earth, insinuated that whisper from 
inside his brain, the one that had been liberated by his long sleep in the 
crystal.  How Zoisite and I would pull pranks on the Terran court!  His laugh 
was more genuine then; it didn't provoke such nasty memories... 
Jadeite shook his head, murmured in pain, "I'm going mad." 
"What's that, my lord?" Aneiron said inquisitively, peering down from his lofty 
perch in the air.  "What did you say?" 
Jadeite didn't feel like admitting to anyone, even the oddly likeable Aneiron, 
that his mind was divided into two parts: General Jadeite, heartless king of the 
Dark Kingdom; and Lord General Jadeite, friend of Prince Endymion, beloved of 
Princess Rei of Mars.  There is no distinction, he told himself.  I am one 
person -- Jadeite, ruler of the Dark Kingdom. 
"Nothing," he said in answer to Aneiron's green-eyed glance of inquiry.  He 
stood up.  "Come.  Himse-  I mean, the Dai Shahre wished to know more of the 
Sailor Senshi; I thought that perhaps you and Dhearec could come with me, to 
"The primary plane?  All right!"  Aneiron cried.  He beamed, dropped down from 
his airy seat.  "Let's go, already!  Fresh air!  Full gravity!  The sun, for 
Madros' sake!  Sweet Lalandra, I finally get to go to Terra!" 
Jadeite shook his head.  He couldn't always tell when Aneiron was being serious; 
he suspected that not even Dhearec always knew. 
Aneiron bounced impatiently.  "Come on, my lord, let's go, come on, come on, 
come on."  He bounded through the study door, took off at a full sprint yelling 
"Dhearec!" at the top of his lungs. 
That was something else that Jadeite found baffling.  Despite the Shondarin 
skill at sorcerous forms of transportation -- their teleports were quicker and 
smoother than anything he had ever seen, and their Gates were frankly impressive 
as hell -- they ran everywhere.... at sprints that would make a gold medalist 
weep with envy. 
Jadeite himself had never been much of a runner; his pace was more a slow, 
stately stalk.  He set off after Aneiron through the gray tunnels of the palace. 

It wasn't hard, following Aneiron's trail, even though the redhead was long out 
of sight; all Jadeite had to do was follow the yells of "Dhearec!  I need you!  
Where the bloody hell are you?" and occasionally ask passerby which path that 
Red Death had taken.  That was the affectionate name of Aneiron and Dhearec 
among the Silver Flames: Red Death and Black Death, in Shondarin Jemoren and 
Jadeite finally found Aneiron and Dhearec: Dhearec, predictably, was in the 
chamber of the cocooned ArchDemon, studying the massive red monolith that had 
housed the spirit of Metallia for time out of mind.  As always since his 
awakening, Jadeite regarded the plinth with mingled worship and loathing.  His 
Dark Kingdom self argued that this was Beryl's master and his own; his whispered 
Terran self maintained that this twisted ArchDemon was the creator of his 
misery, the one who had destroyed Earth and the Moon Kingdoms, the ultimate 
slayer of beloved Rei and friend/master Endymion.  Currently, the Terran self 
was winning; he hated Metallia and all that It stood for.  The Dark Kingdom was 
his now, not belonging to any Queen, whether Metallia or Beryl. 
He twisted his gaze away from Metallia's prison, glanced at Dhearec sitting 
cross-legged before it.  The Shondarin scientist-mage spent most of his time 
here, trying to see if he could divine the all-important Name of the ArchDemon.  
If anyone could do it just by looking at Metallia and Looking thorugh sorcerous 
Eyes, it was Dhearec; all Madros lords were trained from birth to maintain the 
awesome mindshields and psi-powers that made the Imperial House Madros, the Sons 
of Twilight, the undisputed masters of psionics in all of the Six -- now Seven 
-- Galaxies. 
"What do you want, Aneiron?" said the Madros lord, sitting before the red stone. 
 "I assume that you need me to come with you somewhere, accompanying King 
The dark-haired man never took his unsettling azure gaze from Metallia's prison; 
Jadeite still felt uncomfortable.  Aneiron's uncanny resemblance to Zoisite, in 
character at least, was as nothing compared to Dhearec's physical and mental 
similarities to mighty Lord Kunzite.  Only Dhearec's short, raven-black hair 
differed from the proud silver-haired general; even the pale emotionless eyes 
were the same piercing silver-blue. 
"Yeah, Dhearec, you're exactly right, just as usual, come on, Dhearec, we're 
going to Tokyo, come on, come on, come on," sang Aneiron, eyes glowing. "Come 
on, Dhearec, do this for me.  Please, junior?  Come on, boyo, it'll be fun!" 
"Fun" was hardly how Jadeite would have categorized it; he wanted to see if 
Sailormoon was as weak as he recalled.  He wanted to see if the Senshi brats 
would be as inept as they had been four years ago, before he had been sealed 
away in an eternity of cold remorseless sleep. 
Besides, even if he had put away his initial resolve that Aneiron would die, he 
wasn't completely certain about Dhearec.  The resemblance to Kunzite was truly 
"Very well," said Dhearec.  "Lord Jadeite, this is your idea, yes?" 
Jadeite nodded fractionally.  "I need to gather information on the Sailor Senshi 
before we can attack," he said shortly.  "My youma cannot go near Tokyo right 
now, not if we are to conserve energy for the Dai Shahre's experiments upon 
"Yup," agreed Aneiron.  "Sure.  Besides, I wanna see this Tokyo.  I'm bored, 
dammit.  Please, junior?" 
Dhearec glanced noncommittally at the slender redhead.  Aneiron clenched his 
small fists, and glared.  "If you don't," he said loudly, "If you don't indulge 
me in this very small favor, I might mention to Jarin that you'd like to court 
her but are just too shy to approach her yourself." 
"You wouldn't," said Dhearec, an emotion creeping onto his golden face at last. 
"I might," said Aneiron, still glaring. 
Jadeite bit the inside of his cheeks to keep from laughing, and said, "Enough.  
You two are coming with me; the Dai Shahre placed the both of you under my 
command, and my command is that you accompany me to Tokyo." 
"All right," said Aneiron joyfully.  "I guess your secret melt on Jarin is safe 
for now, junior." 
"I do not have a 'melt' on Jarin," said Dhearec icily.  "Let us go to your 
Tokyo, my lord Jadeite." 
"Excellent," said Jadeite.  He concentrated, and all three vanished. 

The Dai Shahre didn't look up as the tell-tale swish of a teleport concluded. 
"Get out," he said without bothering to look at his visitor. 
"Stop being rude," said a golden contralto full of laughter. 
"Stop being childish." 
"As you're so fond of reminding me, Meran, I am a child," she said. 
"I recall giving you an order, Amberylinnissa Artanis Jaliana," he said 
tonelessly.  "I distinctly felt my lips move." 
"I'm not required to follow your orders, Dai Shahre," she said sweetly.  She sat 
down in midair, a trick she'd learned from her friend Aneiron.  "Meran, look at 
Unwillingly, the Dai Shahre looked up at his bride.  "I don't like you, I don't 
like you calling me Meran, and I don't want you here," he said. 
Imperial Princess Amberlin Jalia, youngest sister of the Shondarin Emperor, 
loveliest woman in the history of the Empire, the most powerful magican that the 
Universe would ever see, answered, "I don't care.  I'll call you Meran if I 
like."  She grinned at him winsomely; he threw a harassed glare back at her.  
'Meran': a play on his birthname, Merolan.  The latter meant 'Lord of Darkness.' 
 The former meant 'Dark Snake.' 
"Amberylinnissa Artanis Jaliana," said the Dai Shahre, rising to his full 
majestic height.  "Get out.  Go home.  Play with your dolls.  Leave myself and 
my soldiers alone.  We are dealing with an ArchDemon here, my child.  Ridiculous 
infants like yourself could get hurt." 
His bad leg twinged; he had been on his feet all of yesterday, training with a 
few of his more promising students.  Some days it simply hurt like hell, and 
there was nothing he could do about it.  He was forced to lean more heavily on 
his staff, forced to favor the rebellious wound. 
She noticed, of course.  The bitch.  It had been her who had given him that 
nasty gash in his left thigh; it was her fault that he had this cursed limp; 
that he, who had been so proud of his physical prowess, had to lean on a staff 
like an old man. 
"Why, Meran," she said sweetly, "but you're a cripple.  Aren't you in worse 
danger than I would be?  No, Meran, I'll stay here, thank you.  Roidan won't 
mind, I'm sure." 
"Kel'Roidan," said the Dai Shahre in measured tones, "has an Empire to run.  He 
has a Soul to oversee.  The Emperor has no time to worry about his brat of a 
sister.  Why can't you be more like lovely Amberyl?" 
"My sister is worth twelve of you!" Amberlin Jalia said hotly. She probably 
would have flounced around the room in pique had she been on her feet; as it 
was, she settled for glaring at him in a harassed manner. 
"Just get out, Amberylinnissa Artanis Jaliana," he said.  He turned his back on 
"As long as you keep calling me that," she said warningly, "I'll keep calling 
you Meran.  I can help you, Merolan.  Morrolan." 
"Don't call me Morrolan, either." 
She shrugged.  "As you like.  I think that 'Lord of Chaos' suits you better than 
'Lord of Darkness,' though.  Chance seems to twist around you.  But Merolan -" 
"Dai'Merolan from you, Princess." 
"Merolan!" she shouted, losing her temper.  She calmed, a deathgrip on her long, 
fire-golden braid.  She fixed him with a golden-hot glare.  "I'm trying to help 
you, although Caesarea alone knows why I should, you're so bloody ungrateful - " 

"Watch your language," he said tightly.  His back was still to her; he didn't 
think that he could stand looking at that gloriously lovely face, not without 
recalling how she had crippled him, how she had killed his friend, how she had 
destroyed his poor defenseless child-friend Goth. 
"Merolan," Amberlin Jalia said softly, "I'm descended from Saint Lalandra 
Herself, the Demonsbane, the Blade of Fire.  I have the blood of the Rose of the 
Sun flowing through my veins." 
"I have heard that the people call you the Rose of the Sun now," he said 
"They do.  Don't interrupt, Meran, it's just not polite.  Anyway, I'm a 
Demonsbane myself, Merolan.  Roidan says so, and he ought to know; he's the Soul 
of Shondar.  I can help you fight this ArchDemon, Merolan!  I can help you find 
Its Name!  And I will, Merolan, truly! All you have to do is ask, Meran, I won't 
even make you say please, just ask. All I want is for you to ask. I'll put all 
that I have and am at your disposal -- fighting an ArchDemon would be ever so 
fun -- just humble yourself for once and ask."  In her excitement, Amberlin 
Jalia was incandescently lovely; if he looked like a god in his dark beauty, she 
looked a goddess herself, rose and gold, midnight facing noon. 
"Madam," the Dai Shahre said without turning to her, "isn't it enough that I'm 
going to be forced to marry you soon enough?  Why do you insist on tormenting me 
during my last years of freedom?" 
She deflated. "Oh, I don't know why I even bother," she muttered in disgust.  
"Meran, I don't want to marry you either." This was a pure lie, but Merolan 
hadn't the imagination to discern when people were lying to him. In his 
experience, people tended to tell him the whole and honest truth, if only to 
escape his penetrating stare. As his back was to Amberlin Jalia, she was free to 
dissemble all she liked.  She continued rather spitefully, "I'd sooner marry 
Gurean.  At least he isn't so pig-headed, bloody-minded that he'd fall in love 
with a little mouse of House bloody al'Wyastri, out of pure pique -- " 
"Don't you dare call my blessed Crysia a mouse," said the Dai Shahre.  "Do.  Not 
.  Dare.  I loved her; you murdered her; I will despise you forever.  Get out." 
"Oh, she was armed," Amberlin Jalia said dismissively.  "It was a perfectly 
legal duel.  I can't help it that she didn't know which end of the blade was 
supposed to go where.  Merolan, do you want my help or not?" 
"Get out," he repeated.  The long wound in his thigh began to send ribbons of 
pain through his leg.  He couldn't keep standing on it much longer; but he would 
be damned if he would show how much it still pained him, not before the Rose of 
the Sun who had crippled him and killed his beloved Crysia. 
There was a mumble of barely-audible swears, then another swish. 
The Dai Shahre turned.  She was gone.  All the light and warmth in the office 
seemed to have gone with her. 
He seated himself, wincing at the pain of it, and buried himself back in the 
reports from Jadeite's youma spies. 

The youma dug herself out of the hole where she had been hiding, ever since the 
black-clad soldiers had come. 
Lord Kunzite had told her what to do, years ago, if he should ever die; and he 
had given her the necessary tools.  She grieved that she hadn't been able to 
fulfill Lord Kunzite's orders earlier, but it had been so hard, so hard, living 
in the Dark Kingdom under the black-clad soldiers!  She was so hungry, so 
desperately hungry, and she lacked the energy to teleport elsewhere to find 
Oh, but once Lord Kunzite was reincarnated, once she found a piece of his 
soulstone, once she brought it together with the zoisite she had already found, 
once she spoke the simple charm that Lord Kunzite had patiently taught her -- 
then Lord Kunzite would protect her again.  Then Lord Kunzite would see to it 
that she had all the food she wanted. 
The youma looked furtively around, then crept down into Jadeite's royal 

Ami was doing her homework -- as usual.  Fancy that -- she was only ten chapters 
ahead. Feel free to gag. Rei and Usagi were bickering over a manga -- as usual. 
Rei had already read it and it wasn't even hers, but arguing with Usagi was her 
main anchor in life, masking her true affection for the Odango'd One. Makoto and 
Minako were huddled together over a fashion magazine -- not quite as usual, but 
still well within the established order of things. 
Mamoru sat quietly by Usagi, one hand loosely clasping one of her pigtails, the 
other hand stroking Luna asleep in his lap.  He wished that he were anywhere 
else.  Or better yet, that something interesting would happen here. 
Makoto, who happened to be the only one facing the window at that time, suddenly 
glanced up, looked through the window and outside the Crown game parlor.  "He's 
cute," she gasped, her face becoming intestested and animated.  "Minako-chan, 
he's cute!  He looks just like my sempai!" She glanced back at the table, 
ribbing her blue-haired friend. "Ami, you should look too," she advised. "It's 
worth it." 
Minako didn't even bother to look up -- highly unusual for the most boy-crazy of 
the Senshi. Usagi and Rei were betting that she still pined for Yaten.  "Give it 
a rest, Mako-chan," she advised.  "Chances are --" 
Usagi interrupted both Rei and Minako as she turned and promptly exclaimed, "He 
is cute!  And so tall!"  Makoto and Usagi finished together -- "And look at 
those eyes!" 
Mamoru, irritated, looked up.  "Which one?"  he said, rather sourly.  "There are 
three guys standing out there."  He snickered under his breath as he regarded 
the black coats and breeches over dark blue tunics of the guys on the end, then 
his gaze flicked over the gray coat and trousers, trimmed in red, of the guy in 
the middle.  "Not much on fashion, are they...."  His voice trailed off. 
"Makoto-chan and Minako-chan," he said sharply, "I don't expect you two to 
remember, but Usako, even you ought to know that guy in the middle.  Remember?  
He tried to run you over with a 747!" 
"What?" said Minako. 
"What?" said Makoto. 
"What?" said Ami, at last looking up from her homework. 
"That's Jadeite," summed up Rei angrily, standing up with fire in her violet 
eyes.  "And that particular son of a youma has so much to answer for..." 
Before anyone could stop her, she marched outside. 
"I ought to be careful what I wish for," muttered Mamoru as he watched, 

To Part Four
Man, I'm hungry. But I stayed out here past my bedtime to finish revising this 
sucker for your (presumed) reading enjoyment. I think you owe me an e-mail, you 
do. C'mon, chummer, what've you got to lose? Nada. So do it. Lookit, I've even 
provided the addy for you. I rule. Mail me, yo!


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